Discernment & Guidance When You Need It Most
Trusts are intricate, puzzling matters. Whether you or a loved one have been named trustee and must manage the trust’s assets, you don’t have to manage it alone! RISE UP LEGAL | Attorneys-at-Law is here to provide sound judgment as we guide you through trust administration.
A trustee will be in charge of several critical tasks, and they must be sure to comply with all laws and terms of the trust. With the right Florida trust administration attorney, that process is much more prompt, simple, and cost-effective.
Let RISE UP LEGAL | Attorneys-at-Law be your trusted advocate as you navigate this challenging season. We will support you in managing every aspect of the trust until all terms are complete.
Trust Administration Consultations
Duties & Responsibilities of Trustees:
- Act as Fiduciary
- Invest Assets
- Ensure Safety of Assets
- Manage Distribution to Beneficiaries
- Make Ongoing Decisions Regarding Benficiaries’ Payments
- Prepare Tax Forms & Filings
- And More
Trustees must fulfill a wide range of duties to manage the trust. But unfortunately, some trustees — even family trustees — may attempt to mismanage or manipulate the trust for their own gain. This practice is known as “self-dealing.”
If you’re concerned about trust mismanagement or self-dealing in a Florida trust you’re involved with, contact RISE UP LEGAL | Attorneys-at-Law. We will be your trusted legal representation to guide you through this challenging process. Your options may include petitioning the Florida probate court to remove the acting trustee, and you will need an attorney that will fight for your rights.
We have years of experience helping our clients rise up and take control of their situation — and we’ll help you too. Schedule your consultation with our compassionate attorneys today.
Is your successor trustee sufficiently prepared to administer your estate?
When planning your estate, you likely set up a revocable living trust. This type of trust is foundational to most modern estate plans and offers a wide variety of benefits to you and your loved ones. We recommend “RLT’s” to most of our clients, due in part to their versatility, streamlined management techniques, and distribution advantages.
Your trust will also help your estate avoid probate, which means the administration will move quickly and without the need for direct court supervision. In turn, however, this means the successors you choose to serve in your place will have significant responsibilities. Thankfully, with a little planning, there are ways to ensure your successor trustee is well-prepared for what lies ahead.
During the initial planning process, perhaps as an afterthought, you likely chose your spouse or one of your children to serve as your successor. Nominating family members is quite common, as they are often the natural choice to ensure privacy and frugality. Many nominees are also named beneficiaries in the trust, so aside from a few notable caveats such as limited creditor protection, the choice makes perfect sense.
Sadly, many would-be successor trustees have no advanced knowledge of what will be required of them during the asset distribution process. When asked to serve, most people feel a sense of pride. They are honored to be thought of so highly, and rightly so. The request is commonly made during a special dinner or another get-together; and after a gracious acceptance, everyone is left with a sense of fulfillment and peace of mind. Often, the matter is not discussed much afterwards; and unless you take calculated steps to avoid pitfalls—such as choosing a corporate fiduciary to assist them with their future role—then potential legal implications and fiduciary duties can easily be overlooked. When the time finally comes, the myriad of legal requirements can seem overwhelming, especially during what is often a time of intense mourning.
Generally, I have found the underlying reason for such unpreparedness to be quite simple. While you are alive, your successor trustee likely sees you manage your trust as an “alter-ego.” You don’t really answer to anyone, and you are generally in complete control of your assets. During this period, you have limited commitments to your beneficiaries. In addition, all trust assets are likely managed under your social security number instead of a Tax EIN.
On the other hand, the responsibilities of a successor trustee are often vastly different to those of the trustmaker. For instance, Florida law requires that a Notice of Trust be filed with the court in order for the powers of trustee to properly transfer to a successor upon the death of the trustmaker. The successor trustee must also file an Acceptance of Successor Trustee with the court, and they must send notice of these filings—and other pertinent documents—to various interested parties of the estate. In addition, your successor trustee must obtain a Tax EIN number before they can manage your financial accounts, and they are responsible for paying your creditors as well as for certain tax obligations of your estate. These issues, and more, must be settled before most distributions can be made.
With this in mind, it is easy to see why so many successor trustees are caught off guard when it’s finally time to serve. To the casual observer, the process can appear almost too simple - until it’s too late.
Thankfully, there are simple steps you can take to ensure your successor trustee is ready. One of the ways our firm tackles this issue is by holding an introductory meeting with you and your successor trustee. We don’t focus on the value of assets or amount of money in your accounts, but we do spend time discussing the underlying procedures that are required and the responsibilities they will be held accountable for. An added benefit of the introductory meeting is that it allows your successor trustee to ask you questions to determine the intent behind various decisions.
Work with your attorney now to avoid needless confusion and legal exposure for your loved ones later. If your successor trustee is adequately prepared, things can—and should—go relatively smoothly. Ensure your successors understand what will be required of them and equip them with the tools they will need to administer your assets efficiently - and in accordance with your intent.
If you are in the Jacksonville area and would like to discuss, please reach out. We are always happy to assist with wills and trusts, as well as related administration. Our office can be reached 24/7 by dialing 904-877-1010.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q1: What is a trust in Florida?
A1: A trust is a legal arrangement where a person, called a trustee, holds and manages property or money for someone else, called a beneficiary. Trusts are often used in estate planning to make sure someone's wishes are followed after they pass away.
Q2: What is trust administration?
A2: Trust administration is the process of managing and distributing a trust's assets according to the instructions in the trust document. This includes paying debts and taxes, as well as making sure beneficiaries receive their shares.
Q3: Who is involved in trust administration?
A3: The main people involved in trust administration are the trustee, who manages the trust, and the beneficiaries, who receive benefits from the trust. Sometimes, a trust may also have a trust protector, who makes sure the trustee follows the rules.
Q4: How does the trust administration process start in Florida?
A4: Trust administration starts when the person who created the trust, known as the grantor, passes away or becomes unable to manage the trust. The trustee then steps in to follow the instructions in the trust document.
Q5: What are some steps in the trust administration process?
A5: Some steps in trust administration include:
1. Notifying beneficiaries and interested parties: The trustee must inform beneficiaries about the trust and their rights.
2. Gathering the trust assets: The trustee must locate and take control of all assets belonging to the trust.
3. Paying debts and expenses: The trustee needs to pay any valid debts, bills, or expenses related to the trust.
4. Filing tax returns: The trustee must file any necessary federal and state tax returns for the trust.
5. Managing trust assets: The trustee has the responsibility to invest and manage the trust assets in a reasonable and prudent manner, following the rules set in the trust document.
6. Distributing assets to beneficiaries: Once all debts and expenses have been paid, the trustee must distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the instructions in the trust document.
7. Closing the trust: After all assets have been distributed and all necessary tasks completed, the trustee can close the trust.